Dear Neil Young, One of These Days…

I would like to take this moment to pay homage to one of my favourite musicians of all time, whilst at the same time discussing a phenomenon known as music evoked nostalgia. Music evoked nostalgia is that unbelievable sensation you get when you hear a song and in an instant your body is flooded with emotions and memories.

Sometimes songs have the power to evoke extremely vivid memories from your past, while at other times they are quick memories or thoughts about a particular person. What I love about nostalgia, and in particular music evoked nostalgia, is that the memories are often broad and sweeping. For example, the inspiration I got for writing this post came today when I was once again on public transport (this seems to be a running theme). I was sitting on the tram listening to a playlist entitled ‘Homeward Bound’, which I had created for my journey home from Thailand when ‘One of These Days’ came on by Neil Young. This song, for me, is a lullaby. It calms me.

[image via]

[image via]

Neil Young’s song had the power to move me, and this is something he set out to do. He once explained to Jimmy McDonough (the author of ‘Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography’) his take on song writing:

Just because I wrote a song doesn’t mean I know anything. I don’t know very much about all the things that are going on around here, all the scenes, all the questions. All I know is just what I’m writing about. And even then I don’t really know. I’m just trying to convey a feeling.” 

(p126 emphasis added)

I believe he has succeeded in his task. It is a combination of nostalgia and Neil Young’s magic that allows me to be taken on an emotional journey through time when listening to this song. Not only does ‘One of These Days’ make me smile, it immediately makes me feel happy, safe and loved. Neil Young’s lyrics are beautifully crafted musical sketches that evoke a deep emotional response from within.

This strong emotional response simultaneously conjures up memories of home. An image comes to mind of a beautiful summers day in Martinborough as a child. The sun is pounding down on my sister and I as we play in the garden, making pretend valleys and communities that only we would understand. Several tui rest above us in the kowhai tree, happy to harmonize with Neil Young’s voice, as it floats out over the summer breeze. This leaves me with an overwhelming sense of bliss, that only Neil Young could evoke.

One of these days,
One of these days,
One of these days,
And it won’t be long, won’t be long, won’t be long, won’t be long.

(‘One of These Days’ – Neil Young)

6 comments on “Dear Neil Young, One of These Days…

  1. It's amazing when they're good feelings. Not long ago I put on Coldplay 'Parachutes' and instantaneously leaped for the stereo to turn it off. The feelings were sad, uncomfortable and deep and reminded me of a time where I was probably feeling sad and uncomfortable a lot of the time. That's the power of nostalgia for you.

  2. I remember when I first met Bill that I thought I wouldn’t be able to listen to certain records because of the emotional responses they would stir in me. Such a relief when I did listen to them, including plenty of Neil that I was listening anew, not with my troubled thoughts but with rebirth, growth and love,

    Neil has always been a good friend of mine. I remember visiting CHCH from Melbs and me, Mum and Dad driving to the Sounds while belting out the whole of After the Goldrush album.

    On the Beach – will always take me to coastal Cambodia, and my Dad’s junkie dance is etched in my brain to Down by the River.

    I loved in Shakey – how Neil didn’t know what Cowgirl in the Sand is about, but I relate so much to “Has your band begun to rust?”

    Neil is a poet and somehow knows my head and heart and how to articulate them when I don’t.

  3. Oh darling, that little memory from Martinborough brought a tear to my eye, in fact the whole post did. But that song is brilliant and has some attachment memories for me. I love the feeling you get when you hear a brilliant song and you get goosebumps because of the forgotten memories it brings back. xxx

  4. Pingback: How to deal with grief using music and mindfulness | Whisperings of Life

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